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R.K. Srikantan passes away

The doyen of Carnatic music, 94-year-old R.K. Srikantan died today, the 17th of February. He was known for his resonant voice and awe-inspiring performances, and enthralled audiences until four days ago, when he performed in Hyderabad in what turned out to be his last concert.

Srikantan was born in Rudrapatnam in a family steeped in classical music, harikatha, poetry and the vedas. He grew up surrounded by music, and learnt from his father Krishna Shastri, brother Venkatarama Shastri (grandfather of violinist R.K. Shriram Kumar) and other stalwarts including Veena Subbanna, Chowdiah and Musiri Subramania Iyer.

Srikantan played an active role in popularising the compositions of Haridasas and other vaggeyakaras from Karnataka and himself tuned many of them. He was a great guru, having mentored numerous musicians from Karnataka including his son Ramakanth, M.S. Sheela and T.S. Satyavati.

Srikantan served at the All India Radio and during his stint, ensured that several valuable musical productions were made. Srikantan performed and taught regularly at Carnatica's events, his latest performances being the inaugural concert for the December festival at Hare Krishna Centre, Thiruvanmiyur and at Bharat Sangeet Utsav's Coimbatore edition.
Srikantan's motto was "shruti shuddham, laya shuddham, vak shuddham", something that was obvious in his music until the very end. His life was one of discipline, which he believed reflected in his health and music even as a nonagenarian. His music was steeped in tradition and classical values, and he was a role model in more ways than one to multiple generations of younger musicians. True to his name, Srikantan was a musician with a divine "kanta" and a truly golden voice!

His birthday was celebrated in a grand manner in January this year in Bangalore, in which his biography was released. K.N. Shashikiran of the Carnatica Brothers duo and founder of Carnatica and Carnatic World says, "We—the Carnatica Brothers--had the pleasure of performing at the inaugural function and sang a ragam-tanam-pallavi on him. Most importantly, he stayed back after a long function that lasted over four hours to listen to us and bless us wholeheartedly."

With Srikantan's demise, the Carnatic world has lost a musician's musician, a revered guru and a performer nonpareil. We at Carnatic World join rasikas, musicians and music students around the world in mourning this irreplaceable loss.